BOSTON – Raising the Stanley Cup championship banner before the season opener didn’t help the Boston Bruins to a victory.
So when they got a second try, Tim Thomas said, they knew they couldn’t rely on last year’s accomplishment to give them a spark.
“One of our goals for tonight’s game was to make our own emotion,” Thomas said Saturday night after making 25 saves to help the Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. “We wanted to get the season going in the right direction.”
Rich Peverley scored twice and Brad Marchand assisted on both to lead the defending champions to their first win of the season in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference final. Boston won that series and went on to earn its first NHL title since 1972.
Thomas posted a 1-0 shutout in Game 7 of the playoff series, helping him win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. He also won his second Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie in the regular season.
“Timmy looked, to me, more like the Timmy we know,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He looked calm. He looked more comfortable. To me, that was as close as I’ve seen Timmy to the way he was last year.”
Tyler Seguin also had a pair of assists for Boston, which raised its sixth championship banner on Thursday night before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1.
Mathieu Garon stopped 38 shots for the Lightning, and Martin St. Louis scored their only goal.
“Whenever we did something right, they did something better,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. “That’s why they won the Cup.”
St. Louis’ goal was the 300th career goal. He didn’t get the puck because he didn’t realize it at the time.
Neither did Thomas, who was a college teammate of St. Louis in Vermont.
“I’m actually happy now,” Thomas said with a smile. “I wasn’t happy when he scored.”
After a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in a flurry, with Peverley opening the scoring 2:04 into the second on a rebound of a shot by Marchand that bounced off both posts.
Tampa Bay tied it a little more than a minute later when Vincent Lecavalier stole the puck from Nathan Horton in the neutral zone and poked it ahead. St. Louis chased it down and went in all alone before beating Thomas on a wrist shot past the stick side.
Lecavalier’s assist was his 47th point in 46 career games against the Bruins.
But Boston came back 98 seconds after that on Daniel Paille’s tip-in of an Adam McQuaid shot. Then, with 3:07 gone in the third, David Krejci scored on a rebound of Milan Lucic’s shot to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
The Bruins made it 4-1 when Patrice Bergeron crossed it through traffic in front of the net; Peverley was the first one to get to it, and he swiped it past Garon.
“We got outplayed, outpoised, outhustled,” St. Louis said. “We were only still in the game because our goalie gave us a chance going into the third period.”
Notes: Benoit Pouliot played his first game with the Bruins after signing as a free agent over the summer. … It was Zdeno Chara’s 400th game for Boston, and David Krejci’s 300th. … Claude Julien earned his 299th win. … The Lightning are opening up with a season-long five-game road trip.